Dragon's Den reject Gousto raises £5m from Unilever

LAUNCHPAD: The recipe box delivery company's latest funding round is proof Dragon's Den is often no more than smoke.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 02 Oct 2014

Gousto, which delivers ingredients boxes for specific, suggested recipes, has just raised £5m ($8.3m) from Unilever’s venture capital arm and previous investor MMC Ventures, after being rejected by Dragon’s Den last summer.

The funding will go towards product development and customer service, and is labelled as Series A. But the startup, which was only founded in 2012, had already raised seed funding from angel investors in September 2013, a $2m round led by MMC in December 2013 and $300,000 more recently from Ian West, a non-exec director of Talk Talk and Naked Wines, and Rothschild executive vice chairman Andreas Raffel.

Founders Timo Schmidt and James Carter appeared on Dragon’s Den last August, where they revealed they were losing £25,000 a month at the time. That led Deborah Meaden to drop out - she may be huffing and puffing now, given the amounts they’ve raised.

Peter Jones, meanwhile, wasn’t keen on sharing the pie with the other angel investors they’d already brought on board, more evidence the show isn’t so much about collaborative, sensible investing as the Dragons’ egos and media profile.

‘Consumers are looking for great tasting, healthy, and convenient meal solutions and are increasingly looking online,’ said Unilever Ventures director and co-founder Jan Harley, who is joining the startup’s board. ‘We anticipate that the market will grow very strongly over the next few years and see Gousto as a potential market leader.’

Infighting, tax evasion and dodgy deals: The dark reality of Dragons' Den - from MT's May issue

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